« PreviousContinue »
FROM THE CONNECTICUT OBSERVER. HOW TO AVOID GIVING.
Or, be just, before you are generous. MR. EDITOR,– Without deciding how much a man may involve himself in debt, at the expense of his own comfort, and the instruction and happiness of his family, all will agree that he ought not to do it, to the injury of society, or the cause of benevolence. I have a Deighbor, who I think offends in this particular-and as my case is Dot, I suspect, entirely singular, I wish to offer a few plain thoughts on this subject.
My neighbor, then, I must inform you, is a wealthy farmer-at least is reckoned so among us ;-bis farm is extensive and well stocked—and his affairs are all prosperous. He is a man who intends to be strictly honest-indced his favorite maxim, which I have heard him repeat more than a thousand times, is “Be just before you are generous." He is naturally kind-in many respects, he is an excel. lent member of society-but after all, he has one fault, which much impedes his usefulness-and if I must say, his respectability. He has a wonderful desire to add field to field—and house to house. This he does not aim nor wish to do, by unfair bargains, but by hard labor, and what he calls the strictest prudence. He cannot, or it seems as if he could not, resist a temptation to purchase every acre of land of fered for sale, which lies in the vicinity of his own. The consequence is, he is constantly in debt, and though among the richest men in our parish, never feels'able to any thing for benevolent objects—especially for the missionary cause-because he must " be just before he is generous.”—That is, as he interprets it. He can give nothing to the Lord, until he has bought all the land he wishes and paid for it. I hare many a time tried to persuade him to subscribe to a little Bible Society which we have here-but could never break over his ideas ofjistice. He professes much interest in such things—and hopes, by and by, he shall get out of debt, and then he will do somethingbut at present he really is so involved, he cannot conscientious ty give a farthing in charity. Not long since, we made an effort to increase our library-and as he has a large family, some of whom are fond of reading, we thought he might be induced to aid in the project ;-but all his affection, and even pride, could not prevail on him to be generous and liberal before he was just. Yet the very next day, without any hesitation, he made a contract for many hundred dollars worth of land. I begin to fear that the time never will come when his conscience will suffer him to be benevolent.
And it is quite curious, Mr. Editor, to see how he almost seems to envy those of us, who, though poor in comparison with himself, are not hindered by voluntary engagements, from doing a little for the souls of our fellow-men.-“O if he only had as much ready money as some of his neighbors, it would be so pleasant to bestow it liberally." And he seems really to think, that others, who have not the same rage for buying lands and houses, and therefore have not so many notes to pay as himself, are justly bound to bear those expenses and perform those labors which must be borne and performed by somebody, or society could not flourish.
Now it seems to me, that he, and I fear many others, are wretchedly deceiving themselves; and that while they are needlessly pre vented from being charitable and efficient in the concerns of society, by a weight of voluntary debt, the maxim “ Be just before you are generous," will answer neither at the bar of public opinion, nor before the tribunal of heaven. No man, it seems to me, has any right for the gratification of ambition or vain desire, to fetter himself with obligations which prevent him from discharging all the claims of benevolence and of the public good. If my neighbor had always kept these in view, while entering into his contracts, there would be do occasion for these remarks.
FROM THE CHRISTIAN NIRROR. THE BIBLE A NECESSARY OF LIFE. The idea should be maintained, that the Bible is the very first of neessaries. When families are countenanced in the belief that they cinnot afford to buy a Bible, they are encouraged in putting a low estimate upon it. Giving away a Bible, may have a pernicious influ. ence. It is an assent to the opinion that a family are unable to buy a Bible, and that it is not so necessary to them as many articles of food and clothing. We grant that they may buy weekly a little sugar and tea, a little tobacco and rum; but a Bible is not so needful as such articles. The Giving away of a Bible to a family, because they cannot afford to buy it, is sinking its value below many articles which they think they must buy. In the first instance, therefore, we should labor to convince them that it is worth buying ; that it is one of the first of necessaries to them; that they would act wisely in toiling harder, in living lower, in foregoing pleasant visits and company, and in every kind of self-denial, that they might thereby purchase a Bible. How high would a Bible rise in value thus procured! How important would religion appear! How strong would become the disposition to make sacrifices for every religious privilege and pious, object? Whose heart would not rejoice to see such love for the Bible displayed? —And where such sacrifices were necessary, and were freely made, who would not prefer to lieve them made, and bestow some worldly relief, instead of giving a Dible, so that a love for the Bible might be cherished by the efforts made to obtain it? Dr. Chalmers very happily says in a Bible Society speech, “It is not enough that they count the Bible worthy of a sacrifice. The sacri. fice they should be left to make. It is too fine a principle for us to repress or extinguish.”
Where there exists a population, or where individuals are found who feel no value for the Bible, and cannot be made to feel it, the gift of a Bible, cannot make it sink in their estimation, nor impair in them the habit of purchasing it; but a Bible given them may be read, and its value may be learnt; and in this manner in different parts of the world, a vast number of copies may be usefully distributed.
The Bible may be given in such circumstances as to make it appear one of the first necessaries of life. When a poor father fits off his child to leave his home and makes great efforts to send him away in comfort and decency; if, among the articles for which he toils, and denies himself, there is a Bible ; that Bible would always be a testimony to the youth, not only of his father's affection, but of his father's belief, that it was one of the chief necessaries of life. When a rich man's sons and daughters grow up, or are sent from home to school, the careful and affectionate gift of an elegant lit tle Bible, would be the best testimony to them of the value of the vol. ume; and it would be the best admonition to make it their study and counsellor.
Such a gift from a pious friend would do the same honor to the Bible; and it might be an efficacious suggestion to read it habitually.
The Bible is a necessary of life; a treasure, for which parents should manifest the greatest anxiety to give their children ; a treasure for which the poor should make sacrifices, sooner than for any thing else, and whose value we should endeavor to keep as high as possible in the public estimation.
MAGAZINES, OR PAMPHLETS, most of them Monthly.
PREACHERS, or Sermons of Living Ministers.
RELIGIOUS NEWSPAPERS. Vermont Chronicle, Bellows Falls, Congregationed. Recorder & Telegraph, Boston,
Connecticut Observer, Hartford,
The Friend, Philadelphia, Friends.
do. Day Star, Canton, N. Y.
Magazines · ... 28
Total, 115 The above List of Religious Periodical Publications, is arranged and efir larged, from the N. Y. Observer and the Anti-Universalist. It is not presumed to be complete ; and might no doubt be considerably enlarged, if adequate information were possessed. In view of this List, imperfect, as it may be, the following reflections naturally arise.
1. The growth of Publications of this kind, in our country, has been surprisingly rapid. If we are correct, only 12 or 14 years have elapsod, since the first of the above named works, made its appearance.
2. The disproportion between Religious Newspapers, and Doctrinal Magazines, is very great. If all the Magazines and Preachers published, were considered as Doctrinal ; they will still be to the Newspapers, only in the proportion of 1 to 25. But the fact is, that comparatively few of the Magazines are designed to be Doctrinal, and a large proportion even of these, is occupied with Religions Intelligence.